For many, the pandemic has triggered a reappraisal of urban living, with increasing numbers fleeing city confines in search of green space and more rural settings. A longer commute is now an acceptable addition on the shopping list of country homebuyers who are looking for bigger houses and bigger gardens.
This has resulted in making the South West of England, the Cotswolds and Scotland the 3 most active markets with country homebuyers. According to Rightmove, the Cotswolds has become one of the most sought-after areas in the UK, with online searches for houses doubling in the second half of last year. Britain’s prime country house market saw values rise by an average of 5.5% in 2020, its strongest performance since 2010. For a £2 million country house in the Cotswolds, this translates into a significant increase of £111,000 in value.
Country homes valued at £5m have performed best of all in the prime rural segment, rising annually by 15.8%. The evident lack of stock was the main contributing factor. In addition new prospective buyers between £5m to £10m in the country in the 12 months to March 2021 was also the strongest performing price bracket, up 116% on the previous year!
As a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its picturesque yellow-stone cottages, historic manor houses and high-profile residents like the Beckhams or Kate Moss (the King of Bahrain recently purchased Glympton Park, a 2,000 acres former deer park in Oxfordshire for an impressive £120m!), it is easy to see why the Cotswolds has become the destination for the wealthy and a magnet for people seeking a quieter lifestyle and wanting to leave the hustle and bustle of London.
Is the Cotswolds still the best option then? The answer is yes if you have very deep pockets. But there is an alternative, a little hidden gem worth considering and under-looked: Somerset.
Somerset has lots to offer: stunning countryside and great scenery with orchards and the rolling Mendip, not to mention an equally beautiful coastline, all whilst benefiting from being less sanitised in places than the Cotswolds.
With a 122% increase in the number of house sold over the past 12 months, Bruton in Somerset has become the top country hotspot for house hunters, thus resulting in a 19% increase in asking price in the area.
The neighbouring cities of Bristol and Bath are fabulous destinations for families relocating from London as they arguably offer a cultural hub similar to London, whilst benefiting from good transport links to the capital (1h 40mns train journey from Bristol or 1h 22mns from Bath).
Bristol is unquestionably one of the best places to live in the West Country and has received many accolades over the years. It is a vibrant city with a rich maritime history, has a thriving economy, high employment and a great arts and culture scene, not to mention some of the best schools in the country. Then there is attractiveness of property prices: your tiny 2 bedrooms shack in London could get you a rather impressive 4-storey townhouse in Clifton!
Beyond Bristol, there are 2 alternative options with enough amenities to ensure your departure from London isn’t too much of a shock to the system: Bath and Frome.
Bath, the largest city in Somerset, is a beautiful city with its stunning Palladian architecture designed by the Georgians to fit perfectly with the surrounding hills. Properties here are more expensive, however you could get a 7 bedroom Victorian house for a little over £1 million.
Located east of Somerset, Frome is a wonderful town with a variety of independent shops, bars and restaurants and a strong art scene presence.
And for trendy Londoners looking for a whiff of sin and raffish glamour, there is Somerset’s Babington House, a cherished classic with its 18 acres and 2 swimming pools and part of Soho House group!
If you are ready to leave London behind, and are looking for more space, land and off-street parking for your money, then think no further: Somerset is the next place to live in!
For a free, no obligation consultation and discussion about your property search, please contact Jerome and Claire on:
T: +44 (0) 117 973 3683
M: +44 (0) 7734 115 098